How To Measure Boxing Reach: 4 Pro Tips To Remember

Last Updated on June 6, 2022

Bodyweight isn't a big deal in other sports. In boxing, your body weight controls many factors, and that's why you'll see it listed at the top of a fighter's statistics, besides height and weight classes.

The reach advantage is another factor that differentiates one fighter from another, even though it's rarely on a boxer's profile. It tells you the significant advantage a longer distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other can have in a match. As we discuss reach, we'll tell you how to measure it.

What's The Average Reach Of A Boxer & Why Is It Important?

When we talk about a boxer's reach, it's the length from the fingertip on one arm to the other. We can also call it arm span or wingspan.

But it's not the same as arm length because the latter is the distance from the shoulder to the palm on one arm. Therefore, good arm length provides great striking distance, but long reach may double this distance as it also considers the back and the shoulders, not just the length from the shoulder to the fist. 

If you're a beginner, then it's more important to focus on the distance from your middle fingers than your arm length because it'll help you find a boxing style suited to inside or outside striking distance.

You see, your height affects your reach and that’s why taller people tend to throw punches a longer distance. 

The average reach for professional boxers is 71 inches. Some legends had greater fighter reach than this average. We can't forget heavyweight boxers like the 6'5" tall Tyson Fury with his 85-inch fighter's reach and Dumitru Stefanescu, the tallest at eight feet and two inches tall, flaunting an arm span over 100 inches.

Thomas Hearns in the welterweight division boasts an arm span of 78 inches at 6'1" tall and middleweight fighter Charley Burley's reach measurement is 75 inches against a height of 5'9". 

Now, compare these two with Tommy Burns, the short heavyweight boxer, who was five feet and seven inches tall, yet his length between the two middle fingers was 73 inches. Others with a reach over 71 inches included Flloyd's uncle Roger Mayweather and Panama Al Brown.  

Why You Should Measure Reach

The reason is quite simple: you want to be the one reaching the farthest and taking your opponent down from the outside. 

Unlike other sports like football, where you need fast legs, boxing is more personal, so you have to reach the distance between you and your opponent with tact. If you miss an opportunity, your opponent knocks you down. 

Therefore, fighters with short arms have a disadvantage as they can't reach opponents as fast, from the outside, as boxers with long arms. 

How To Measure Reach

How To Measure Reach

Since we've said your reach is your length from one middle finger to the one on the other arm, it sounds like you can use a tape measure and discover your reach in the next few minutes.

However, it's not as simple when you want an accurate measurement. Here's how to do it:

Step 1

Remove all upper body clothing to see your torso in full. That'll give you an accurate measurement as clothing items like t-shirts can increase it around the chest. Nevertheless, female boxers can keep their sports bras on.

Step 2

Do a light cardio workout for about five minutes to relax your upper torso muscles. There's no limit to the cardio workout that can stretch these muscles, from a light jog to jumping jacks. If you've been training hard regularly, a light jog will relax your muscles.

Step 3

Have someone help you take this measurement, then stretch your arms outward on either side of your upper body. 

Your body will stretch out in a perfect T with one arm across from the other arm and both parallel to the ground. It might help to face a wall so that you don't hunch your back and your palms rest on the wall horizontally.

Step 4

Measure the distance from the middle finger on the right to the one on the other arm. Your assistant should place the tape measure in a straight line for the best measurement. Take measurements on your back instead of your chest because you want to eliminate even the slightest inclusions since your chest isn't as flat as your back.

How To Measure Arm Length

How To Measure Arm Length

Arm length is a more accurate measurement as there's little to no room for error when measuring the distance from your shoulder to your palm. Unlike reach, arm length doesn't change when you shrug your shoulders.

We mentioned that most fighter profiles show arm length instead of reach, so we thought we'd share how they arrive at that figure.

So, here's how to know your arm length.

If you've just measured your short or long reach with the steps above, don't send your helper away because you need someone to hold the tape measure as you measure arm length. 

You'll do it a bit differently than in the first task, as you'll measure from your underarm to the tip of your closed fist. Start with one arm and move to the other. That's your arm length.

How To Benefit From Your Reach

What measurements did you get after the small exercise earlier? Is your reach above 71 inches?

If it is, your next task is training hard to improve your footwork so that you move quickly when an opponent strikes while also playing offensive with your upper body. You'll also learn that you should play outside as often as possible since you can throw jabs from there and reach your opponent. 

Without speed, an opponent with a short reach can trap you inside, and you'll have no escape from their powerful jabs. Remember, legends like Mike Tyson didn't have an impressive fighter reach, but they had the skill to knock out any opponent. When you get into a boxing match with such a legend, your longer reach won't help you.

Now, let's talk about those with short reach. If yours is below 71 inches, don't worry. Opponents with long arms will keep you away when you attack, but you can learn tricks to get closer and stop them from using their longer reach against you. 

Imagine how powerless such a fighter would be when they lack great footwork and only come into the ring hoping to win with the length of their upper body. 

Additionally, learn how to counter their punches. For instance, dodge an opponent's punches as they take longer to compose more punches. As they maneuver a greater distance to reach you, there's a chance for you to strike. But, first, you must dodge.

Incorporate other exercises that increase your punching power, such as shadow boxing, to have powerful punches when you close the gap between you and your opponent.

Lastly, you can be a boxer whether you have shorter arms or a longer reach.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is your reach the same as your height?

In most cases, the body ratio of your reach to height is one to one; thus, your arm span is about the same length as your height. However, where it's not, the difference is the ape index. For example, if a boxer's height is six feet seven inches (79 inches) and arm span is 72, the ape index is 79/72=1.10

If it's greater than 1, your reach is more than your height, and if it's lower, you're taller than your reach.

Do broader shoulders increase wingspan?

Yes, they do, but it's not an overnight success if you haven't been stretching your shoulders. 

Therefore, stretch your shoulders often to relax your muscles and make them elastic. It'll also improve your posture such that when you extend your hands horizontally to measure reach, your back is straight. Plus, having healthier shoulders reduces the risk of injury in a boxing ring.

What was Mike Tyson's reach?

Tyson's reach was 71 inches, which is within the average reach of most boxers. But, it wasn't as long as that of other legends, which proves our point that some great fighters have something else to their advantage, not just their reach.


Conclusion

You might assume that a boxer's reach is the distance the arms extend from the chest in a fight. However, now you can define it as the distance from the fingertip of both middle fingers when you stretch your hands horizontally. 

Plus, now you know how to measure reach since it's different from your arm length, and if you want to accurately measure it, use the length across your back instead of your chest. Also, remove any clothing except a sports bra for a clear indication of your reach.

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